Backpacking Southeast Asia: Singapore

Back in 2014, I stayed in Singapore for 8 days. Our itinerary then revolved around sustainable urban development, history, culture, the environment, some shopping, and a bit of fun here and there. This time around, I had to put together an itinerary that didn’t include the Land Transportation Office and Housing & Development Board.

DAY 1: MARINA BAY

It was a little past 2 in the morning when we deplaned, and the trains weren’t scheduled to open for another 3 hours.

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Once we left Changi Airport, it took us almost an hour to find our hostel among the buildings and side streets of Bugis. And when we eventually found the right way, we arrived to an empty street and locked doors. The waiting game was, apparently, still on.

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After a shower, change of clothes, and breakfast at the nearby 7Eleven, we were ready to go around.

Gardens by the Bay

Our first stop was the famous super trees. Before we reached the grove, we spotted a lizard/iguana who Maly named Lacoste.

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The Gardens is a part of the Singapore government’s strategy to reinvent itself from a “Garden City” to a “City in a Garden”.

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ArtScience Museum

This year, the museum has a new permanent exhibition – Future World: Where Art Meets Science. They change the installations from time to time, but the exhibition as a whole will stay at the museum for the next three years.

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Helix Bridge

Probably my favorite of Singapore’s creative architectural designs, the Helix Bridge (previously called the Double Helix Bridge) connects Marina Centre with Marina South, and is open to pedestrians, cyclists, and skaters.

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We took this route on our way to Merlion Park, slowly being roasted by the HOT! Singapore sun.

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Merlion Park

While tourists flocked around the Merlion (8.6m) and Merlion cub (2m), I raced ahead to find… ice cream sandwiches.

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A helpful stall vendor solved my problem when she pointed me towards the direction of the ice cream man.

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Fort Canning

After a brief respite from walking, we made our way towards Fort Canning, not knowing that we had to climb several flights of stairs to make it to the top.

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Although honestly, what else was I expecting, when the description clearly read: “a park overlooking Orchard Road”?

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Clarke Quay

The colorful riverside buildings of Clarke Quay house restaurants, nightclubs, and other shops. Aside from the vibrancy of the area, what I really wanted to visit was the Books Kinokuniya in Liang Court. Their stocks were disappointing, but I still bought a new journal.

Clarke Quay

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Food Junction @ Bugis Junction

We ended our day with dinner at Food Junction. This food court also happens to be one of my favorites because of the variety of choices at reasonable prices.

DAY 2: ART & PLANTS

Bussorah Street

Our hostel was right in the middle of Bussorah Street, but we weren’t able to fully appreciate this part of Kampong Glam the day before. That morning, Maly and I woke up to tones of prayer coming from the nearby Masjid Sultan Mosque.

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Haji Lane

Teeming with art and life, we took pictures and stopped by the shops lining Haji Lane. The mural and signage of the Singapura Club particularly caught my attention.

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Golden Mile Food Complex

On our way to buy bus tickets for Malacca, we had lunch at a hawker center just across the ticketing office. We went the wrong way from Haji Lane, and reached the Rochor Centre & Sim Lin area.

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Singapore Botanic Gardens

We walked through the Singapore Botanic Gardens from the Botanic Garden MRT entrance. Since it was a holiday (Eidul Fitr), the gardens were full of people picnicking, touring, and generally having a good time.

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Orchard Road

Shar wanted to drop by the Bershka boutique at Orchard, so we looked for it (eventually finding it at ION) and decided to eat dinner there as well.

DAY 3: BOOKS & SHOPPING

It rained the entire morning, so I slept in before we went to the hawker centre at Haji Lane for lunch.

National Library

Singapore’s National Library is heaven. They have so many books, a reading space for kids, and several floors of resources and exhibitions.

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We viewed an exhibit on the highlights of the library from its establishment in 1823 to the present day, and made a friend out of the very helpful security guard in the exhibit area.

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For more about the National Library’s history, click here.

Little India

We looked around for a while inside Mustafa Center before calling it a day and heading towards Chinatown. Like the rest of Singapore, Little India was saturated in color.

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Chinatown

Full of bustling shoppers, we looked for souvenirs among the stalls then stopped for snacks just off Smith Street. I bought a cup of iced Durian coffee, and Maly managed to find very tasty bean curd. George and I wanted to eat spicy crabs, but to our chagrin, it was waaaay beyond our budget.

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Bedok

This one’s rather out of the way, but if you want to eat delicious and affordable vegetarian food, Green Dot is a good choice.

DAY 4: OFF TO MALACCA

Other places to visit in Singapore:

Disclaimer: This post contains photographs taken by Maly Larrazabal. Thanks Mal 🙂

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